Shimla, June 19: Fearing poaching by ruling Congress ahead of election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC), the BJP has acted smartly and taken all its 17 councillors and the rebel member, Rakesh Kumar Sharma, who won as an independent to some unknown place.The newly elected councillors were called to party headquarter yesterday, where former Chief Minister P K Dhumal and other senior BJP leaders were already present.
The independent member also joined them.Senior party leaders chalked out the strategy for election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor with the councillors and consensus was arrived on candidature of Kusum Sardet for the post of Mayor as she was the only councillor in the party eligible for the post of the Mayor, reserved for Scheduled caste woman. However, party sources were tight lipped on the issue.
Sardet was elected from Annandale ward Number 4.Rakesh Kumar Sharma, who was expelled from the party for contesting against the BJP supported candidate from Panthaghati (ward number 26), has been taken back into the party fold and is likely to be the Deputy Mayor.The meeting lasted till late evening. Later the councillors were shifted to some unknown place to prevent horse-trading by the ruling party. Insiders in the BJP revealed that all possible measures have been taken by the party to keep the councillors away from the reach of “poachers”.
The councillors, who have reportedly been shifted to some unknown place outside Shimla, would come straight to Bachat Bhawan tomorrow in Deputy Commissioner office complex, which is venue of the meeting for the election.The BJP has much to learn from the unpleasant experience of Ramesh Dhawala, a BJP rebel who was elected as independent in 1998 Assembly polls from Jawalamukhi and emerged as king-maker.
He was whisked away to Shimla and taken residence of the then Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.“We cannot take any chances this time as some Congress leaders are trying to contact our councillors. We have taken foolproof measures. We are also in touch with some Congress and independent councillors and will pay back in the same coin if need be”, said a senior BJP leader, who is an active member of the management team.The elections were not held on party symbols.
Besides, neither any anti -defection law is applicable nor the parties can issue any whip. Therefore, the field is wide open for horse-trading.Besides Sardet, two other women elected from the wards reserved for Scheduled Caste women are Congress backed candidate Simi Nanda from Nabha and Rachana, who won as an independent from Vikas Nagar but extended support to the Congress. However, the numbers are not in favour of the Congress to get its candidate elected as Mayor.
Source Tribune India